Tomato paste as a global commodity ingredient is a relatively modern phenomenon . The wild relative of the tomato is found in South America and is a small blueberry sized berry From 2,000 years ago, the plant was domesticated and the fruit grew in size , becoming closer to what we would ecognise as a tomato today . Tomatoes first arrived in Europe in the mid-16 century with HernanCortes . For a long time they were viewed with suspicion in northern Europe and north America dueto being a member of the nightshade family , but gradually entered into culinary use . Today tomatoes are the second most important vegetable crop in the world ( by weight ) after potatoes with global production of over 160m tonnes .The predecessor of tomato paste is recorded as having been traditionally produced at household level in Sicily , southern Italy and Malta , by spreading a reduced tomato sauce onto boards to dry inthe sun . When scraped off it was a solid dark-coloured ball that could be kept into the winterseasons and used in cooking at an appropriate moment . Industrial tomato processing anpreservation took off in North America , however , where in the latter half of the 19 " century theprocess was scaled up with automated canning , and later on , with mechanised harvesting . It was California that transformed the tomato from a local , seasonal crop to a global commodity product.
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